Modi arrives in the city on September 14 to lay the foundation stone of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh University
NEW DELHI – Days before Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s scheduled arrival in Aligarh, the district unit of his Bharatiya Janata Party has tried to rake up the issue of Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s portrait in Aligarh Muslim University.
Modi will lay the foundation stone of Raja Mahendra Pratap Singh University in Aligarh district on September 14, almost two years after Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath announced its formation.
According to IANS, the BJP unit in Aligarh has written a letter ‘with their blood’ to the prime minister, urging him to ensure the removal of the portrait from the campus. Party spokesperson in Aligarh, Shivang Tiwari, warned that they will force the authorities to take down the portrait, “if the AMU authorities did not remove it themselves.”
The letter has been submitted to the district administration with a request to forward it to the Prime Minister.
This is the second attempt in recent years to corner the AMU on the issue. In 2018, a similar demand had been made by party MP Satish Gautam. Then, supporters of BJP’s student wing Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and Hindu Yuva Vahini, a militant organisation founded by Adityanath, had entered the university campus and clashed with university students in an attempt to remove the portrait of Jinnah.
The violence, leading to injuries of several AMU students, had taken place while former Vice President Hamid Ansari was visiting the campus. He had been invited to honour him with a life membership of the student union. The function had to be called off.
AMU has been conferring life membership on eminent personalities since 1920 and Mahatama Gandhi was the first life member of AMU Student Union. “Their portraits add to the rich heritage of undivided India and no one ever raised this issue before,” AMU spokesperson Prof. Shafey Kidwai said in May 2018 when Satish Gautam, the BJP MP, had raised an objection.
Jinnah’s portrait has been hanging at the university since 1938, much before the partition of the country. He was a founder member of the university and was conferred with life membership of the student union.
Jinnah’s portrait is not alone. Portraits of a galaxy of luminaries like Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Azad, Jawaharlal Nehru, CV Raman, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, VV Giri and APJ Abdul Kalam adorn the walls of the student union building. They were all life members of the AMUSU.